Changing the legal paperwork for your name and gender is a common request for folks for who are transgender, gender non-confirming, and/or queer in our LGBTQIA community. While we cannot process such requests, we can provide the steps as applicable in the state of California. Please note that the process for this varies by state. We can also direct you to other websites to download the necessary forms. All the forms can be found on the California Court Judicial Website here: How to Change Your Name AND Gender (Adult) – gender_change_selfhelp (ca.gov).
You can also go directly to that link for a repeat of the steps listed below on this webpage.
Thank you for seeking out this information and congratulations on taking another step in your gender-confirming journey in life!
Note: You do not need a court ordered recognition of gender change to change your California driver’s license, social security card, or U.S. passport. You also do not need a court order to have a new birth certificate issued reflecting a change of gender (for California birth records); you can go directly to the State Registrar office and follow the process there.
You do need a court order for a change of name. If you need to change your name and gender, you can follow the instructions below, or you can instead change your gender with the State Registrar (without a court order) and separately get a court order for a name change only.
- Fill out official court forms. This includes: Petition for Change of Name, Recognition of Change of Gender, and Issuance of New Birth Certificate, and an additional attachment. You will also need to complete: Order to Show Cause for Change of Name to Conform to Gender Identity, Civil Case Cover Sheet, and a Decree Changing Name and Order Recognizing Change of Gender and for Issuance of New Birth Certificate. You may need to fill out forms from your local courthouse as well. Use this link to find your local courthouse: Find Your Court – superior_courts (ca.gov)
- It is a good idea to have a legal professional review your forms. Some courts have a family law facilitator or a self-help desk that can do this for you. You can also ask for free help from the Legal Aid Society of San Diego: Legal Aid Society of San Diego (lassd.org)
- We advise you to make copies of all your forms so you can keep track of what information you gave the court.
- File your forms with the court clerk. This does cost money and costs vary by the local court you’re using. However, if you cannot afford this, don’t fret! Ask for a fee waiver form.
- After you file the forms with the superior court, the court will issue the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name to Conform to Gender Identity. This publishes your request for name change for public viewing and objection. Other people are allowed 6 weeks to step in and report a valid reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to legally change your name (such as previous criminal activity). If you run into trouble with this or suspect you might get objectors, you can use the Legal Aid Society services (link listed above).
- If a court hearing is held due to objectors, you should appear with your lawyer and make your case. However, this may not happen at all, and if that is the case, you can proceed to step 7.
- Get your Decree Changing Name and Gender from the court. If the judge approves your request for a change of name and gender, the judge will sign the Decree Changing Name and Order Recognizing Change of Gender and for Issuance of New Birth Certificate. Once you get your signed decree, get a certified copy from the court clerk. You will need this to change your name on your legal documents, including your birth certificate and other government-issued identification like your driver’s license.
- Change your birth certificate. Take your new court order you received from the judge to the State Registrar within 30 days of receiving it and pay the fee required to obtain a new birth certificate.
And that’s it! You’re done!
We realize this is a lot of steps and the tasks can feel intimidating, so we recommend you think of someone you can trust to help you stay organized and/or support you through this process: a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or even a social media support group! Facebook and Reddit both have several support groups filled with other transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, and gender non-confirming people who are either going through the same process.
Still worried? Consider reaching out to our Pride Center Staff members:
Dylan Davidson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abbie Cory: email@example.com
If you feel you need hands-on emotional support, consider calling the Palomar Behavioral Health Counseling Center (BHCS) to talk to a therapist: 760-891-7531.
You can do this! 🙂